There’s Still Gold in Us Silver Spenders

happy senior businessman holding money in hand while working on laptop at table

In The Economist this week is one of those periodic reminders that the Boomer age cohort is actually where the money is.  Such nods to silver spending, even if in this case concerned with greater online purchases of adult “nappies” and mobility milks, are a useful corrective to the routine ad-market focus on the young and brand-fluid.

In fact, if it weren’t for the flood of pharmaceutical pitches insinuated into much news programming, you might think that no consumption remains from those alive when men first walked on the moon. Investment brokerages are another exception to the marketing rule—money managers do know where the money is—but this activity falls in the bucket of keeping not parting with funds.

The short Economist article observes that Boomer seniors—if at ages below 76, on the young end of the sunset population—were more likely to confine themselves during the pandemic, and thus more in need of (finally) embracing e-commerce. This may be so, although our other life patterns were also arguably disrupted less by Covid—we weren’t generally kept from bars, concerts and offices, or forced to look after young children. In some respects, then, we don’t need to be rediscovered, as we never disappeared.

Oh, I suppose the travel industry will want us back—we (ages 55 to 64) rule most leisure hospitality despite what you see in the ads.  We certainly will be reoccupying most of the fine-dining seats (at least those not filled by expense-account whippersnappers). Whether in restaurants or for home, we buy most of the good wine. Speaking of homes—at least the second ones, which were a pandemic special—those are also primarily a market for empty-nest households, perhaps hopeful for the grandkids to visit. We often chuck out a lot for upkeep of them, too.

The most fundamental realization about us Boomers, however, is how active we remain (despite or because of all those pills that are sold to us). Even among those who’ve left the regular workforce, surprisingly few below age 75 have retired to the lounger.  To the extent that golf is exercise when riding around in a cart, that is another favorite spend for the spritely. Museums, reopened, are a popular mature pastime even if the wall captions are usually hard for our eyes to read. To keep us going, we are the most regular coffee drinkers. We do use our smartphones, if not as avidly, something that the Consumer Cellular carrier identifies in its marketing.

In numerous other categories beyond our infirmities, there is gold still to be mined in us silvers. Hey, AARP makes it a good business. So, have at us, retail warriors, even if you must resort to social-media targeting in the process. The fabled Millennial inheritance is a good ways off. Ours is a constituency with money in hand, and bonds are a lousy place to put it right now, anyway.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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